Titles and Affiliations

Swanlund Professor
Departments of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Cell and Developmental Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois

Research area

Identifying targets for the development of drugs that prevent drug resistance and improve breast cancer outcomes.

Impact

Estrogen-driven breast cancer (ER-positive) is the most common subtype of breast cancer and is treatable with anti-estrogen (endocrine) therapies, such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors. However, many of these tumors become resistant to endocrine therapies, which allows them to grow and metastasize to other tissues. Dr. Katzenellenbogen has been studying the protein FOXM1, which plays a role in breast cancer progression, resistance to endocrine and other cancer therapies, and metastasis. Her findings may inform the optimization of therapies that will provide long-lasting and meaningful benefits for patients with aggressive breast cancers.

Progress Thus Far

Dr. Katzenellenbogen has developed FOXM1 inhibitors that are very effective in suppressing the growth and metastasis of ER-positive and triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). She and her team have identified gene, protein, and molecular alterations in breast cancer cells that are associated with the development of resistance to various cancer therapies.

What's next

Dr. Katzenellenbogen is now defining how FOXM1 inhibitors are effective in suppressing breast cancer growth and metastasis in ER-positive breast cancer and in TNBC. They will explore combination drug treatments with FOXM1 inhibitors and other standard-of-care agents that can act synergistically to inhibit breast tumors and block cancer recurrence. These studies hold promise for improving patient outcomes.

Biography

Benita Katzenellenbogen is Swanlund Professor of Physiology, Cell and Developmental Biology, and director of a breast cancer research group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an internationally known endocrinologist and cancer researcher and has been a key scientist in understanding the biology of estrogen receptors and in elucidating mechanisms by which antiestrogens and SERMs, such as Tamoxifen and Raloxifene, are effective in controlling breast cancer. The work of her research group has most recently involved the development of selective hormonal agents for breast cancer treatment and prevention.

Since joining the University of Illinois, she has published over 350 research articles, contributed 30 chapters in books, and co-edited a text on hormone-dependent cancers. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors from governmental and private institutions including the MERIT Award (1991-1999) from the National Cancer Institute,  Jill Rose Award from The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Ernst Oppenheimer Award, Roy O. Greep Lecture Award, and Koch Lifetime Achievement Award of The Endocrine Society, Distinguished Scientist Award from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and National Scholar Award from the American Association of University Women.

She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and previously served as President of The Endocrine Society. She has been active on government scientific review panels of the National Institutes of Health and the American Cancer Society, and has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals. The research unit she directs has trained approximately 100 graduate students and postdoctoral and visiting scientists.

BCRF Investigator Since

1999

Donor Recognition

The Play for P.I.N.K. Award